Doing business in an environmentally sustainable way is one of the central challenges of our time. The EU has defined criteria for determining the degree of a company’s environmental sustainability. With our taxonomy-aligned investments in development activities and in property, plant and equipment, we are today already shaping the future in an environmentally sustainable way as envisaged by the EU Taxonomy.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
As part of the European Green Deal, the European Union (EU) has placed the topics of climate protection, the environment and sustainability at the heart of its political agenda in order to achieve climate neutrality by the year 2050. The finance sector is expected to make an important contribution to realizing this objective. In this context, the EU published the “Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy” in 2021. Aimed at supporting the financing of the transition to a sustainable economy, the published strategy contains proposals relating to transition finance, inclusiveness, resilience and contribution of the financial system, and global ambition. It is based on the EU’s action plan on Financing Sustainable Growth of 2018. In addition to “Disclosures” and “Tools”, another key module is the EU Taxonomy (Regulation (EU) 2020/852 and associated delegated acts).
The EU Taxonomy is a classification system for sustainable economic activities. An economic activity is considered taxonomy-eligible if it is listed in the EU Taxonomy and can therefore potentially contribute to realizing at least one of the following six environmental objectives:
- Climate change mitigation
- Climate change adaptation
- Sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources
- Transition to a circular economy
- Pollution prevention and control
- Protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems.
An activity is only considered environmentally sustainable, i.e. taxonomy-aligned, if it meets all three of the following conditions:
- The activity makes a substantial contribution to one of the environmental objectives by meeting the screening criteria defined for this economic activity, e.g. level of CO2 emissions for the climate change mitigation environmental objective.
- The activity meets the Do-No-Significant-Harm (DNSH) criteria defined for this economic activity. These are designed to prevent significant harm to one or more of the other environmental objectives, e.g. from the production process or by the product.
- The activity is carried out in compliance with the minimum safeguards, which apply to all economic activities and relate primarily to human rights and social and labor standards.
The Volkswagen Group supports the EU’s overarching goal. We are committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and align our own activities with the 1.5 degree goal. We aim to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2050.
REPORTING FOR FISCAL YEAR 2022
Under the EU Taxonomy, the Volkswagen Group is required to report on the climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation environmental objectives for fiscal year 2022; the EU has not yet defined the disclosure requirements for the other four environmental objectives. The figures reported on sales revenue, capital expenditure and operating expenditure relate to the companies consolidated in the Volkswagen Group’s financial statements. Volumes and financial data for our Chinese joint ventures are therefore excluded.
The wording and terminology used in the EU Taxonomy are still subject to some uncertainty in interpretation, which could lead to changes in the reporting when it is subsequently clarified by the EU. Ultimately, there is a risk that the key performance indicators presented as taxonomy-aligned would need to be assessed differently. Our interpretation is set out below.